Thursday, March 22, 2012

Laura Carson: Making an Altoid's Tin Book

In this tutorial I’ll walk you through creating a vintage Altoid’s Tin book using chipboard and two Altoid’s tins.  The fun part of this project is that by hinging two tins together it creates niches that you can load up with all kinds of embellishments.  
What You’ll Need
Two Altoid’s Tins
A glue that works with metal – I used Glossy Accents
A tacky paper glue – I used Tombo Multi
One large or two small hinges
A latch
Decorative paper
Staz-on Ink or Ranger Alcohol Inks
Paper Cuter
Embellishments and Ephemera
Vintage Images
Start by collecting paper, embellishments and the vintage photos you want to use.  You can see in the image below that I’ve pulled several items that I thought I might use for my book.
I used blank Altoid’s tins for my book that measured 3 11/16" long by 2 1/4” wide by 3/4" deep (without the lid).  I purchased my tins at Alpha Stamps.  All the measurements in this tutorial are based on these tins.  You can use any tins you like just as long as you have two of them.
First, remove the lids from the tins and set them aside.  You will not need them for this project. 
Next, either snip off the hinges or bend them flat.  You will be covering the sides of the tin with paper so you don’t want the hinges sticking up.
You’ll be covering most of the surface of the tin with paper except for the edges.  Ink the edges of the tins using Ranger Alcohol Ink or Staz-On.  Both products adhere to metal.  You can always choose to keep the original color of the tin if it works with your color scheme.  I used Mushroom Ranger Alcohol ink to color the edges of my tin, my hinges and my latch.
You will be covering the outside sides, the inside sides and the inside bottom of the tins with paper.  You don’t need to cover the outside back of the tin with paper as it will be glued to your covers.  If you are using the same tin as I did, then below are the paper measurements:
Inside sides – cut two strips of paper 3/4” wide by 12” long.
Outside sides – cut two strips of paper 3/4” wide by 12” long.
Inside bottom - Use a sharp pencil and the bottom of the tin as a template.  Trace the shape on your paper twice and cut.
Glue the paper to the tins.  To glue the paper I used Tombo Multi glue which is a very tacky paper glue.  Glue the strips to the outside of the tins.  Next glue the strips to the inside of the tins, and lastly glue the paper to the bottom inside of the tins.
Decorate the insides of your tins.  I started with the background elements.
Next, I prepped my pictures.  To popup the images, I first backed them with heavy cardstock for support and then added two layers of double stick tape.
After adding my photos I added images and dimensional embellishments.
To attach the tins, put your tins together with the decorated insides facing each other.  Attach your hinge or hinges to one side of the tins.  I used Glossy Accents to glue on my hinges.  Be sure your tins are facing the right direction and that you are gluing your hinges to what will be the back of your tins.  You don’t want to glue on your hinges, then open the tin, only to find that one of the tins is upside down or the tins are hinged on the wrong side (been there, done that).  
Once the glue from the hinges was dry, I glued brads with the prongs removed, to the holes on the hinges.  The brads are colored with Mushroom Alcohol Ink.
On the front side of your tins (opposite side from where you glued the hinges) glue a latch to your tin.  Another option for a closure is to use ribbon.  Glue ribbon to each undecorated back of the tins (in the middle of the tin).  
For additional decoration I added paper hinges and brads with the prongs removed to the holes on the latch and paper hinges.
Below are the finished hinged tins with latch.

For the front and back book covers, cut two pieces of chipboard that measure 3” wide by 4 3/4” wide.  The covers will be about 1/2” larger than the tins on each side.  If your chipboard is thin or you just want thicker covers you can glue layers of chipboard together.  You want the covers thick enough that they won’t bend when you stand up the completed book.
Cover your chipboard with decorative paper on both sides.  You can add flat elements at this stage like images, rub-ons, stamping etc. but don’t decorate the covers with dimensional embellishment as it will make assembling the book harder.  In addition to covering my chipboard with paper, I also inked the edges with Ranger Distressed Ink.
Assemble the book by gluing the tins to the chipboard covers.  Start by gluing the tins to the center of the front cover.  Next, glue the tins to the center of the back cover.  Before gluing, make sure that your covers and tins are facing the right direction.  I used Glossy Accents to glue my covers to the tins.
Decorate the front cover.  I started with bits of paper ephemera to create a frame.
I glued resin frames to words from a vintage dictionary.
I collaged together resin frames, paper ephemera and a metal key.
After attaching the resin frame collage, I added other paper and metal elements to finish the cover.
Finished Front Cover
You can also decorate the back cover, inside covers and outside of the tins if you wish.  Just make sure that anything you add does not get in the way of opening and closing the book.
Finished Inside
Finished Latched Side
Finished Hinged Side
Use your leftover Altoid’s Tin lids to make a skinnier version of this book.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial!   For more of my art and tutorials visit my blog Artfully Musing.  Laura


  1. Brilliant use of simple altoid tins that no longer resemble anything like the originals. Your details are amazing. I adore your creative style. Thank you for sharing your techniques. Blissful Inspirations...

  2. Wonderful look to the tins - what a transformation! Thanks for such detailed instructions.

  3. fabulous project. thanks so much for sharing and inspiring us. x

  4. This is a beautiful altered project!

    Thank you for your sweet comments on my Jingle Belles card!

  5. EXcellent tutorial and so beautifully photographed.

  6. What a wonderful item it looks wonderful and a lovely TUT Thanks Dawn xx

  7. thank you so much for this tutorial ! This book is wonderful !

  8. Very beautiful! But everything Laura does is beautiful! I loved the tutorial.

  9. What a wonderful way to recycle the tins! Laura, you never cease to amaze me with your creative, artful works. I love this!!

  10. wow this takes altering altoid tins to a whole new level. Thank you for sharing. Annette x

  11. Hello!

    This is lovely! Beautifully done! I have covered the tins with polymer clay - I love the mille fiori best - but never the paper crafts. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! Wishing you sunshine today!


    Barbara Diane

  12. wow! How beautiful Laura! you are truly so talented.Thank you for the tutorial and sharing such beautiful work.
    susan s.

  13. Great idea Laura using the tins for a book.
    hugs Lynn

  14. This book is wonderful ! Thank you so much for this tutorial ! I Love it !!!

  15. Very inspiring as usual Laura. Does Alpha Stamps carry the latch you used and the hinges?
    Thank you for creating this tutorial and your attention to detail and explanations make it so easy to understand.
    Have a super weekend.

  16. simply perfect and wonderful in every way Laura! Thank you for sharing your amazing talent with us all!!

  17. WOW!! I'm speechless. Fantastic and beautiful

  18. i love it! thanks for this tutorial!


Thanks for your wonderful words!

Other Articles Which May Interest You:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin